PAUL Fletcher has insisted Burnley would not have reached the Premier League without Brendan Flood – and says the Clarets need to replace the outgoing director with a similarly ambitious investor.

Burnley yesterday announced that Flood has decided to step down as a director for ‘personal reasons’, after more than six years on the club’s board.

Flood remains a significant shareholder but admitted that the settlement of a legal row with the Anglo-Irish Bank had ‘taken a lot out of me both financially and emotionally’.

Working with then chairman Barry Kilby, Flood was Burnley’s operational director and major investor as they reached the Premier League in 2009.

Owen Coyle, Flood’s choice as manager 18 months earlier, guided the Clarets to promotion via the play-offs at Wembley.

And Fletcher, who alongside Flood for three years in a role as chief executive at Turf Moor, thinks his former colleague’s ambition was the decisive factor in Burnley’s rise to the top flight.

“It was a very steady safe club under Barry Kilby but I don’t think they would have got into the Premier League without Brendan Flood,” said Fletcher, who was persuaded to join the club’s board by Flood.

“They needed to take a calculated gamble, which is what Brendan took.

“He had a lot of ambition and not everyone has it.

“Without being critical, some people are happy with just safety and keeping the status quo but Brendan wanted more than that.

“Not everyone went with him at times but he wanted to take the club into the Premier League and keep them there for a number of years.

“He recognised what Owen Coyle could do for the club and explained to him that we were an ambitious club, which for 18 months we were.

“Unfortunately we weren’t able to stay in the Premier League, but I don’t think Burnley would have got there without Brendan.”

Flood invested new funds into the club and Fletcher believes that the Clarets need to replace that investment and ambition – ideally from a lifelong Burnley fan, like the outgoing director.

Burnley’s board now numbers four, with joint chairmen Mike Garlick and John Banaszkiewicz aided by Kilby and fellow director Clive Holt.

“Brendan made some big investments into the club and it was unfortunate that while that was going on he was going through some difficult times,” Fletcher said.

“It was the time of the recession and I think he would continued to invest if it hadn’t been for the downturn of his business.

“But he was extremely ambitious and you do need people like that.

“I get on well with Mike Garlick and John Banaszkiewicz, and the mantle passes to them now.

“Maybe the board needs some new people like Brendan.”

Aside from an official statement, the Clarets were making no further official comment yesterday, with Kilby unavailable.